The Rollright Stones

Francis Breakspear

This is one of those awkward things to write; to talk about a place of peace and beauty and encourage people to visit it- which place may then not be so beautiful nor peaceful if loads of people then go there to see how beautiful and peaceful it is, and in the process trample the area flat. Difficult- OK, a risk; but here goes.

The Rollright Stones are on the Oxfordshire-Warwickshire borders (with some of the stones in each county). Neither as large in diameter nor as tall or physically weighty as Stonehenge or Avebury, they do however have their own charm and innate sense of power, and “energy” (whatever that means). And that latter feeling is not just some fluffy new age crap; the stones seem to affect even the most hardened sceptic, and scientific studies done in the eighties found numerous magnetic, acoustic and radiological anomalies. So, it’s a weird place- Official!

The stones used to be owned by a delightfully batty old lady called Mrs. Flick, who used the income to help support a pet’s home, but she is sadly no longer alive. The stones have been taken over by a charitable trust, which seems to be running them in very much the right spirit.

The place is full of legend- the King Stone is said to be a local ruler who was turned to stone in a wager with a witch, that he lost, and the rather dubious theories of Margaret Murray claim that someone was ritually murdered near there in the 1940s. There is a pretty weird book (‘the Rollright Ritual’ - now out of print) by WG Gray based on what he psychically picked up- it’s supposed to be an account of the magic worked there by the people who built the circle, several thousand years ago. More recently it has become a regular gathering place for all manner of pagans and new-agers. I was there once when 3 carloads of police arrived; fortunately only to visit on their way to some conference and not to hassle anyone. The custodian on duty lent them a set of dowsing rods each, and set them off playing with them in the circle. Their immediate attitude was of mocking ‘all this hippy witchy rubbish’….. until the dowsing rods started to spin like helicopter blades! Exit several very quiet, chastened and confused policemen a few minutes later.

Personally, I love the place- I’ve been to a beautiful Pagan wedding there; seen the sun come up on an awesome Solstice dawn, seen it go down on a freezing winter’s night and performed some highly significant magickal work of my own there. When I lived in Wales and had to travel to London a lot it was a great place to stop off and recharge, and now I live so far away it’s a special journey to get there, but one I intend to keep on making. So do visit if stone circles are your thing, but don’t expect to find Ice-Cream vans and a picnic area.

Oh yeah- do any damage or leave any litter there and I’ll find you and kill you…

FB

The Rollright Trust website: http://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/

ASLAN (Ancient Sacred LAndscape Network) for more general stone circle matters: http://www.symbolstone.org/archaeology/aslan/

Some of Dave’s photos of Rollright (and many other places) can be found at http://groups.msn.com/BlueRememberedHills/home.htm

How to get there:

By Road

The nearest railway stations are Chipping Norton, Moreton or Stratford and taxis from there to the stones will be expensive- public transport to the area is not exactly great, due to the very rural nature of the place. You need to be in a car or be prepared for a long walk to get there, really. The stones are a short distance off the A3400 between Chipping Norton and Stratford, and the Rollright Trust website (above) has a useful map.

Accomodation – Nearby pubs will have either rooms or camping space, and there are several dedicated caravan and campsites nearby. The tourist honey pot of Shakespeare’s Stratford-on-Avon is a short drive away, and has the whole gamut of places to stay, from expensive hotels to Bed and Breakfast places to campsites.
More info from http://www.cotswolds.info/
 

The quotes in this piece are all taken from ‘Thundersqueak’, which awesome, and awe-inspring tome.